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Interview to Andrew Dobson PDF Print E-mail

 

Interview to Andrew Dobson- Professor of Politics, Keele University (UK)

“We all have an innate sense of fairness and justice, and that is the only thing required of the ecological citizen”

 

Entrevista-How do you think the international community is going to deal with climate change in future, after the failure of Copenhague??

- Future negotiations need to be much more participatory ahead of the main conference.  Above all it is crucial that the views and needs of developing countries are taken much more obviously into account.  Justice is the key objective, since without it there will never be a sufficiently wide agreement on emissions reduction.  'Contraction and convergence' is the best way to frame future agreements, since this is fair both on 'developed' and 'developing' countries.  The sight of the world's most powerful countries putting a deal together at the last moment must not be repeated in future.

-Do you think we are ready to be "ecological citizens"? ¿Which should be the starting point to educate the citizenship in ecological living guidelines?

-We all have an 'ecological citizen' inside us.  We all have an innate sense of fairness and justice, and that is the only thing required of the ecological citizen.  The problem is that we live in a political and economic system that encourages us to be anything but citizenly.  We are assumed to be self-interested, and even policies designed to make us act in pro-environmental ways depend for their effectiveness on treating us as 'self-interested rational actors' rather than as citizens.  This creates a vicious circle in which citizenly impulses are 'crowded out' by self-interested ones.  This cannot be a basis for ecological justice.

-Where would you say that the ecologist claims point at today? Do you believe, as some intellectuals do, that is possible to talk about an environmentalism of the poor people and that ecologist struggle comes from the "developing countries"?

-Historically it is true that the powerful give nothing away without a fight.  Environmental problems are caused more by the rich and powerful than by the poor and vulnerable, and the rich and powerful have much to lose.  They may give a little here and there, but it is hard to see how any fundamental change will come about unless inexorable pressure is
exerted from below.

-Do you think that ecologist struggle can and must be incorporated to the human rights speech?

-The human right to a sustainable environment is ever more widely recognized, and is more and more often found in constitutions.  Human rights have been an important part of progressive politics for a long time, and political demands formed around them can have considerable potency.  But while rights demands might be a necessary condition for environmental justice I do not believe they are a sufficient condition.  Rights demands on their own cannot undermine relations of power and injustice.  We also need to consider whether human rights need to be reconceived as animal rights (we are animals, after all), since this would make a difference to the whole basis on which we build our thoughts for the future.

-Could you explain us the advantages of the so-called "Bioregionalism" in relation with the management of environmental problems?

-Bioregionalism has somewhat gone out of fashion in recent years.  The idea that we can redesign our societies so that they fit into bioregions, and only rely on what they can produce in those regions rather than trade with other ones, will be regarded by many as implausible.  We might think that if ever we live in bioregional societies, this will be a sign of the collapse of civilization as we know it, rather than as the planned outcome of a peaceful transition to a sustainable society.  Having said that, bioregionalism is an ecologically rational idea, so perhaps what we need to do is to take the ecological rationality that is inherent in the idea, and apply it to today's societies.  This would be a form of 'localism' that is entirely plausible - indeed necessary - under current conditions.